Directed by Janet Greek [Other horror films: N/A]
There are some movies that I really enjoy the first time I see them, but then, upon revisiting them years later, fall a decent amount from my favor. Two good examples of this would be Witchboard (1986) and, more dramatically, Nightwatch (1997). My reaction to seeing Spellbinder again isn’t nearly as negative, but I do think I enjoyed this quite a bit more when I first saw it.
It’s still a quality film, don’t get me wrong. The atmosphere is appropriately tense throughout much of the second half of the film, and the whole Satanic cult thing really works out in the movie’s favor. The special effects are great at times, and there’s an element of creepiness too that’s hard to deny. Oh, and there’s Tim Daly as the star, which is fantastic. All of these are great elements, and to be sure, I find the film above average without a doubt, but it’s missing something that I must have seen my first time through.
Tim Daly isn’t a giant name, but he did star in one of my favorite Stephen King works, the 1999 mini-series Storm of the Century. It’s sort of fun seeing a ten-year younger Daly, especially since it flew over my head the first time I saw this that I had previous experience with the actor. The other performances are all decent, such as Kelly Preston, Diana Bellamy (Stripped to Kill), and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Ghost Voyage, of all things), but Daly was, at least to me, the clear stand-out here.
Once we get toward the finale of the film, some potential surprises pop up, and even though I’ve seen the film before, I still found the ending decently satisfying, though I think that past a certain point, many people could correctly surmise where exactly Spellbinder is going. Related, I enjoyed how they tacked on an epilogue of sorts, because it gave the thing a cyclical feel that worked well.
In the end, I didn’t enjoy Spellbinder quite as much as I used to, but I still think it’s a decent movie. It’s just not a movie that blew me away at all. Still, for the late 80’s, Spellbinder is a pretty unique film, and if it’s gone under your radar, it may well worth be checking out at least once.
This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss Spellbinder.